Julia Martin Gallery / 444 Humphreys May 1, 2023 - May 31, 2023

BJ Barbee

Combining mystical components of a religious cult upbringing with images of legendary musicians, mythical preachers and bewitching bombshells, BJ Barbee taps into a deviant undercurrent that most of humanity sweeps under a rug. Barbee, in turn, pays tribute to it in banner form, inviting viewers to saddle up and join the parade.

My fascination with the metaphysical and its closeness cannot be understated, or fully understood. Being raised in the south, cowboys and country music stars represented a link between the mundane and the holy. The 'rough around the edges' charm of such legends, now considered 'rustic', has given way to something much more shiny, plastic and 'civilized'. Nowhere is this more evident than in Nashville, TN. The town many of us have always known and loved is gone. The ghosts of the recent past haunt the now glowing streets and inhabit smoky corners of leveled bars like voices heard from another room. With this work, I’d like to invite you into that room, Waylon Jennings on the record player, as we gaze at a Robert Motherwell. Let it be a tribute to our dirty old saints, who mark the path beneath a disappearing landscape that has led us all here. Like them, we might as well go down singing together.